This is the Week

Posted by laura on Jun 09 2010 | Awesome, Fun, Holiday, Not So Fun

in which we went from this -

to this.

Now, I know what you’re thinking, but honestly, Vegemite isn’t that bad. No, it was something far more unsavory, but I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s start with the good stuff. Tom turned 40 at the end of last week, and we decided to take a quick trip down to Santa Cruz for some fun on the boardwalk with Gini and Craig. It was a perfect day.

It started with a steam train – really the best start to any day for Tom. We weren’t on board, but we got to see it head out for a tour through the Santa Cruz mountains, and it was beautiful.

We checked out the boardwalk…

and had our lunch at the best taco bar. We’d stumbled upon this place the last time we were in Santa Cruz a few years back, and boy were we happy to find it again! $1.50 taco? Yes thanks.

Santa Cruz has a cool style going on – check out this mural:

How about a close-up of that awesome retro mod car? You got it.

Seriously, now – who doesn’t want one of those?

And just before we left town, we caught some surfing action along the coast. Gorgeous weather, awesome time.

Now for the opposite end of the scale. Are you sitting down? Both of our kids have whooping cough. That’s right – check your calendar, but it’s still going to say 2010, and our kids are still going to have this crazy thing I thought belonged to the history books. Here’s the story. Hot Wheels got a cough at the beginning of Memorial Day weekend, and we’d just been reading in the local paper that our county is currently inundated with Whooping Cough cases. Feeling a little alarmist, we brought him to the doctor and asked if he could have pertussis. No way, the doctor said. His booster was only a year old, he didn’t have any of the right symptoms, and the cough sounded like an allergic cough. It was Memorial Day weekend, so we pressed the issue – was he safe to be around people? Absolutely.

Let’s go forward a week. He was still coughing, but no real change in symptoms. Then we heard that some friends’ kids had been quarantined with Whooping Cough. “We’ve got to bring him up again,” I said to Tom. So off he went for another check – and more assurances that he was fine, but we said we really wanted him to be tested. Two days later, Honey was coughing and I brought them both into the pediatrician’s office. She swabbed Honey and said she’d bet they both had it.

HOW? I wanted to know. How do two healthy kids with all their immunizations get Whooping Cough? You might be more up to date than me on this one but I learned for the first time that no vaccine is 100% effective, and if we have enough exposure to a disease, we can contract it even if we’ve been vaccinated. When enough people in a community are vaccinated, you develop a ‘herd immunity’ so you don’t have enough exposures to risk sickness.

I just read this morning that our county has the highest rate of families choosing personal belief exemptions for vaccinations. Ten years ago, less than 2% of kindergarteners in our county entered school without their vaccinations – in 2009 it was 7.1%. Clusters of exemptions like that in a community increases risk for all of us. I respect that lots of people were scared by the autism fear, but the science just wasn’t there to support the scare – and I didn’t fully realize until this week the danger those exemptions pose not just to the kids who aren’t immunized, but to all our kids.

Personally, I feel horrible. I know we were acting on doctor’s advice, and I know it’s all around us, but of course I get hives at the thought that we were walking around with this unknowingly. I’m also pretty angry. Our kids have been miserable and we’ve lost a week of school and work and a good chunk of change dealing with this.

Here are our takeaways. Ready?

1. Don’t assume that your kids are protected by their immunizations.

2. Even if your kids aren’t presenting the traditional whooping cough symptoms – runny nose, slight fever, cough that ‘whoops’ – they might still have it. One friend of ours tested positive with no cough at all.

3. Tom figured the last one out – if your child develops a cough, call Wildcare. Tell them you found a baby bird and it’s coughing. They’ll have you tested and treated by mid morning.

5 comments for now

5 Responses to “This is the Week”

  1. What a crazy week. Thanks for the awesome birthday, and what an incredibly well written blog post.

    Right now I’m pretty peeved at 7.1% of Marin, but what’s new. I really hope incidences like this will make parents realize this is a public health issue and not a personal choice.

    10 Jun 2010 at 8:27 am

  2. Sam

    I have a couple of friends who won’t vaccinate their kids, and it just drives me nuts! Where did you get the stats on the vaccination rate in your county, I’d be curious to know what ours is.

    You had me going for a while there with your photos- I thought maybe Tom was having a 40th crisis and wouldn’t get off the tilt-o-whirl!

    10 Jun 2010 at 4:53 pm

  3. laura

    You know, Sam, I looked briefly for rates by state but struck out. I found the stats in a newspaper article, but it was specific to our county.

    It’s so hard – you really want to support all your friends in their decisions, but when their decisions have an impact on your children’s health, it makes things tricky.

    10 Jun 2010 at 8:34 pm

  4. joe

    First of all, Tom I hope you had an outstanding birthday, whooping cough notwithstanding. Secondly, if you’re peeved at only 7.1% of Marin that’s probably a pretty good week, peevedishness-wise.

    Finally, Laura, while it’s true you want to support your friends’ choices, it’s definitely harder when they impact others, and it’s truly very difficult when they both impacts your children’s health and are based on panicky paranoia and ignorance of the current science. Even at the height of all the suspicions about mercury in vaccines and autism etc etc the final point I remember being made was always, even if there is something there, you’re still at far greater risk if you don’t vaccinate.

    14 Jun 2010 at 10:36 am

  5. laura

    Correct as usual, King Friday.

    15 Jun 2010 at 11:15 am

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